Interactions between hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are essential for the development and maintenance of hepatic phenotypic functions. We report the assembly of three-dimensional liver sinusoidal mimics comprised of primary rat hepatocytes, LSECs, and an intermediate chitosan–hyaluronic acid polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM). The height of the PEMs ranged from 30 to 55 nm and exhibited a shear modulus of ∼100 kPa. Hepatocyte–PEM cellular constructs exhibited stable urea and albumin production over a 7-day period, and these values were either higher or similar to cells cultured in a collagen sandwich. This is of significance because the thickness of a collagen gel is ∼1000-fold higher than the height of the chitosan–hyaluronic acid PEM. In the hepatocyte–PEM–LSEC liver-mimetic cellular constructs, LSEC phenotype was maintained, and these cultures exhibited stable urea and albumin production. CYP1A1/2 activity measured over a 7-day period was significantly higher in the hepatocyte–PEM–LSEC constructs than in collagen sandwich cultures. A 16-fold increase in CYP1A1/2 activity was observed for hepatocyte–PEM–10,000 LSEC samples, thereby suggesting that interactions between hepatocytes and LSECs are critical in enhancing the detoxification capability in hepatic cultures in vitro.
Chronic alcohol consumption leads to liver inflammation and cirrhosis. Alcoholic liver disease patients have increased levels of hepatic RANTES/CCL5. However, less is known about the molecular mechanisms for ethanol-induced RANTES up-regulation. In this study, we observed that liver sinusoidal endothelial cells derived from ethanol-fed rats (E-rLSECs) showed severalfold increases in RANTES and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) mRNAs compared with control rLSECs (C-rLSECs). Similar effects were seen in acute ethanol treatment of isolated rLSECs and human dermal microvascular endothelial cells. Ethanol-induced RANTES mRNA expression required ethanol metabolism, p38 MAPK, HIF-1α, and JNK-2, but not JNK-1. EMSA experiments showed increased HIF-1α binding to wild-type hypoxia response elements (HREs; −31 to −9 bp) within the RANTES promoter in response to ethanol. RANTES promoter analysis showed that cis elements proximal to the transcription start site, HRE-1 (nt −22 to −19), HRE-2 (nt −32 to −29), and AP-1 (nt −250 to −244) were required for ethanol-mediated RANTES expression. These results were corroborated by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showing augmented HIF-1α binding to HRE-1. Additionally, promoter analysis revealed c-Jun, c-Jun/c-Fos, and JunD, but not JunB, bound to the AP-1 site of the RANTES promoter. Ethanol-mediated activation of NF-κB led to HIF-1α activation and concomitant RANTES expression. Plasma of ethanol-fed c-Junflox/flox-Mx-1-Cre mice showed attenuated levels of RANTES compared with ethanol-fed control mice, supporting the role of c-Jun in ethanol-induced RANTES expression. Our studies showed that ethanol-mediated RANTES/CCL5 expression occurs via HIF-1α activation independently of hypoxia. The identification of HIF-1α and AP-1 in ethanol-induced RANTES expression provides new strategies to ameliorate ethanol-induced inflammatory responses.
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) form a semi-permeable barrier between parenchymal hepatocytes and the blood. LSECs participate in liver metabolism, clearance of pathological agents, immunological responses, architectural maintenance of the liver and synthesis of growth factors and cytokines. LSECs also play an important role in coagulation through the synthesis of Factor VIII (FVIII). Herein, we phenotypically define human LSECs isolated from fetal liver using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. Isolated LSECs were cultured and shown to express endothelial markers and markers specific for the LSEC lineage. LSECs were also shown to engraft the liver when human fetal liver cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice with liver specific expression of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) transgene (uPA-NOG mice). Engrafted cells expressed human Factor VIII at levels approaching those found in human plasma. We also demonstrate engraftment of adult LSECs, as well as hepatocytes, transplanted into uPA-NOG mice. We propose that overexpression of uPA provides beneficial conditions for LSEC engraftment due to elevated expression of the angiogenic cytokine, vascular endothelial growth factor. This work provides a detailed characterization of human midgestation LSECs, thereby providing the means for their purification and culture based on their expression of CD14 and CD32 as well as a lack of CD45 expression. The uPA-NOG mouse is shown to be a permissive host for human LSECs and adult hepatocytes, but not fetal hepatoblasts. Thus, these mice provide a useful model system to study these cell types in vivo. Demonstration of human FVIII production by transplanted LSECs encourages further pursuit of LSEC transplantation as a cellular therapy for the treatment of hemophilia A.
The ability of the liver to regenerate is crucial to protect liver function after injury and during chronic disease. Increases in hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are thought to drive liver regeneration. However, in contrast to endothelial progenitor cells, mature LSECs express little HGF. Therefore, we sought to establish in rats whether liver injury causes BM LSEC progenitor cells to engraft in the liver and provide increased levels of HGF and to examine the relative contribution of resident and BM LSEC progenitors. LSEC label-retaining cells and progenitors were identified in liver and LSEC progenitors in BM. BM LSEC progenitors did not contribute to normal LSEC turnover in the liver. However, after partial hepatectomy, BM LSEC progenitor proliferation and mobilization to the circulation doubled. In the liver, one-quarter of the LSECs were BM derived, and BM LSEC progenitors differentiated into fenestrated LSECs. When irradiated rats underwent partial hepatectomy, liver regeneration was compromised, but infusion of LSEC progenitors rescued the defect. Further analysis revealed that BM LSEC progenitors expressed substantially more HGF and were more proliferative than resident LSEC progenitors after partial hepatectomy. Resident LSEC progenitors within their niche may play a smaller role in recovery from partial hepatectomy than BM LSEC progenitors, but, when infused after injury, these progenitors engrafted and expanded markedly over a 2-month period. In conclusion, LSEC progenitor cells are present in liver and BM, and recruitment of BM LSEC progenitors is necessary for normal liver regeneration.
Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells (LSEC) differ, both structurally and functionally, from endothelial cells (EC) lining blood vessels of other tissues. For example, in contrast to other EC, LSEC posses fenestrations, have low detectable levels of PECAM-1 expression, and in rat tissue, they distinctively express a cell surface marker recognized by the SE-1 antibody. These unique phenotypic characteristics seen in hepatic tissue are lost over time upon culture in vitro; therefore, this study sought to systematically examine the effects of microenvironmental stimuli, namely, extracellular matrix (ECM) and neighboring cells, on the LSEC phenotype in vitro. In probing the role of the underlying extracellular matrix, we identified collagen I and collagen III as well as mixtures of collagen I/collagen IV/fibronectin as having a positive effect on LSEC survival. Furthermore, using a stable hepatocellular model (hepatocyte-fibroblast) we were able to prolong the expression of both SE-1 and phenotypic functions of LSEC such as Factor VIII activity in co-cultured LSECs through the production of short-range paracrine signals. In the course of these experiments, we identified the antigen recognized by SE-1 as CD32b. Collectively, this study has identified several microenvironmental regulators of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells that prolong their phenotypic functions for up to 2 weeks in culture, enabling the development of better in vitro models of liver physiology and disease.
endothelial phenotype; SE-1; CD32b; extracellular matrix; hepatocytes
The normal liver is characterized by immunologic tolerance. Primary mediators of hepatic immune tolerance are liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). LSECs block adaptive immunogenic responses to Ag and induce the generation of T regulatory cells. Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by both intense intrahepatic inflammation and altered hepatic immunity. We postulated that, in liver fibrosis, a reversal of LSEC function from tolerogenic to proinflammatory and immunogenic may contribute to both the heightened inflammatory milieu and altered intrahepatic immunity. We found that, after fibrotic liver injury from hepatotoxins, LSECs become highly proinflammatory and secrete an array of cytokines and chemokines. In addition, LSECs gain enhanced capacity to capture Ag and induce T cell proliferation. Similarly, unlike LSECs in normal livers, in fibrosis, LSECs do not veto dendritic cell priming of T cells. Furthermore, whereas in normal livers, LSECs are active in the generation of T regulatory cells, in hepatic fibrosis LSECs induce an immunogenic T cell phenotype capable of enhancing endogenous CTLs and generating potent de novo CTL responses. Moreover, depletion of LSECs from fibrotic liver cultures mitigates the proinflammatory milieu characteristic of hepatic fibrosis. Our findings offer a critical understanding of the role of LSECs in modulating intrahepatic immunity and inflammation in fibro-inflammatory liver disease.
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are specialized scavenger cells, with crucial roles in maintaining hepatic and systemic homeostasis. Under normal physiological conditions, the oxygen tension encountered in the hepatic sinusoids is in general considerably lower than the oxygen tension in the air; therefore, cultivation of freshly isolated LSECs under more physiologic conditions with regard to oxygen would expect to improve cell survival, structure and function. In this study LSECs were isolated from rats and cultured under either 5% (normoxic) or 20% (hyperoxic) oxygen tensions, and several morpho-functional features were compared.
Cultivation of LSECs under normoxia, as opposed to hyperoxia improved the survival of LSECs and scavenger receptor-mediated endocytic activity, reduced the production of the pro-inflammatory mediator, interleukin-6 and increased the production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10. On the other hand, fenestration, a characteristic feature of LSECs disappeared gradually at the same rate regardless of the oxygen tension. Expression of the cell-adhesion molecule, ICAM-1 at the cell surface was slightly more elevated in cells maintained at hyperoxia. Under normoxia, endogenous generation of hydrogen peroxide was drastically reduced whereas the production of nitric oxide was unaltered. Culture decline in high oxygen-treated cultures was abrogated by administration of catalase, indicating that the toxic effects observed in high oxygen environments is largely caused by endogenous production of hydrogen peroxide.
Viability, structure and many of the essential functional characteristics of isolated LSECs are clearly better preserved when the cultures are maintained under more physiologic oxygen levels. Endogenous production of hydrogen peroxide is to a large extent responsible for the toxic effects observed in high oxygen environments.
BACKGROUND & AIMS
Capillarization, characterized by loss of differentiation of liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC), precedes the onset of hepatic fibrosis. We investigated whether restoring differentiation to LSEC in liver affects their interactions with hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and thereby promotes quiescence of HSCs and regression of fibrosis.
Rat LSECs were cultured with inhibitors and/or agonists and examined by scanning electron microscopy for fenestrae in sieve plates. Cirrhosis was induced in rats using thioacetamide, followed by administration of BAY 60-2770, an activator of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC). Fibrosis was assessed by Sirius red staining; expression of α-smooth muscle actin was measured by immunoblot analysis.
Maintenance of LSEC differentiation requires vascular endothelial growth factor-A stimulation of nitric oxide (NO)-dependent signaling (via sGC and cGMP) and NO-independent signaling. In rats with thioacetamide-induced cirrhosis, BAY 60-2770 accelerated the complete reversal of capillarization (restored differentiation of LSEC) without directly affecting activation of HSC or fibrosis. Restoration of differentiation to LSEC led to quiescence of HSC and regression of fibrosis, in the absence of further exposure to BAY 60-2770. Activation of sGC with BAY 60-2770, prevented progression of cirrhosis, despite continued administration of thioacetamide.
Differentiation of LSEC has an important role in activation of HSC and the fibrotic process in rats.
VEGF; rat model; chronic liver disease; fenestration
The liver may have a role in peripheral tolerance, by serving as a site for trapping, apoptosis and phagocytosis of activated T cells. It is not known which hepatic cells are involved in these processes. It was hypothesised that liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) which are strategically placed for participation in the regulation of sinusoidal blood flow, and express markers involved in recognition, sequestration and apoptosis, may contribute to peripheral tolerance by inducing apoptosis of activated T cells.
By using immunoassays and western blot analysis, the fate of activated T cells when incubated with human LSEC isolated from normal healthy livers was investigated.
Evidence that activated (approximately 30%) but not non‐activated T cells undergo apoptosis on incubation with human LSEC in mixed cell cultures is provided. No difference in the results was observed when unstimulated and cytokine‐stimulated LSEC were used. T cell–LSEC contact is required for induction of apoptosis. Apoptosis induced by LSEC was associated with caspase 8 and 3 activity and strong expression of the proapoptotic molecule Bak. Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) produced constitutively by LSEC is partly responsible for the caspase‐induced apoptosis, as neutralising antibodies to TGFβ markedly attenuated apoptosis, up regulated the antiapoptotic molecule Bcl‐2 and partially blocked caspase‐3 activity.
These findings broaden the potential role of LSEC in immune tolerance and homeostasis of the immune system. This study may provide insight for exploring the mechanisms of immune tolerance by liver allografts, immune escape by some liver pathogens including hepatitis C and pathogenesis of liver diseases.
We evaluated the kinetics by which rat liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are repopulated in the reperfused transplanted liver after 18 hours of cold ischemic storage. We found that the majority of LSECs in livers cold-stored for 18 hours in University of Wisconsin solution are seriously compromised and often are retracted before transplantation. Sinusoids rapidly re-endothelialize within 48 hours of transplantation, and repopulation is coincident with up-regulation of hepatocyte vascular endothelial growth factor expression and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 expression on large vessel endothelial cells and repopulating LSECs. Although re-endothelialization occurs rapidly, we show here, using several high-resolution imaging techniques and 2 different rat liver transplantation models, that engraftment of bone marrow–derived cells into functioning LSECs is routinely between 1% and 5%.
Bone marrow plays a measurable but surprisingly limited role in the rapid repopulation and functional engraftment of bone marrow–derived LSECs after cold ischemia and warm reperfusion.
Background & Aims
After liver injury, bone marrow-derived liver sinusoidal endothelial cell progenitor cells (BM SPCs) repopulate the sinusoid as liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). After partial hepatectomy, BM SPCs provide hepatocyte growth factor, promote hepatocyte proliferation, and are necessary for normal liver regeneration. We examined how hepatic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates recruitment of BM SPC and their effects on liver injury.
Rats were given injections of dimethylnitrosamine to induce liver injury, which was assessed by histology and transaminase assays. Recruitment of SPCs was analyzed by examining BM SPC proliferation, mobilization to the circulation, engraftment in liver, and development of fenestration (differentiation).
Dimethylnitrosamine caused extensive denudation of LSEC at 24 hours, followed by centrilobular hemorrhagic necrosis at 48 hours. Proliferation of BM SPCs, number of SPCs in the bone marrow, and mobilization of BM SPCs to the circulation increased 2- to 4-fold by 24 hours after injection of dimethylnitrosamine; within 5 days, 40% of all LSEC came from engrafted BM SPC. Allogeneic resident SPCs, infused 24 hours after injection of dimethylnitrosamine, repopulated the sinusoid as LSEC and reduced liver injury. Expression of hepatic VEGF mRNA and protein increased 5-fold by 24 hours after dimethylnitrosamine injection. Knockdown of hepatic VEGF with antisense oligonucleotides completely prevented dimethylnitrosamine-induced proliferation of BM SPCs and their mobilization to the circulation, reduced their engraftment by 46%, completely prevented formation of fenestration after engraftment as LSEC, and exacerbated dimethylnitrosamine injury.
BM SPC recruitment is a repair response to dimethylnitrosamine liver injury in rats. Hepatic VEGF regulates recruitment of BM SPCs to liver and reduces this form of liver injury.
endothelial progenitor cells; toxic hepatitis; animal model; liver damage
The liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) and Kupffer cells constitute the most powerful scavenger system in the body. Various waste macromolecules, continuously released from tissues in large quantities as a consequence of normal catabolic processes are cleared by the LSEC. In spite of the fact that pig livers are used in a wide range of experimental settings, the scavenger properties of pig LSEC has not been investigated until now. Therefore, we studied the endocytosis and intracellular transport of ligands for the five categories of endocytic receptors in LSEC.
Endocytosis of five 125I-labelled molecules: collagen α-chains, FITC-biotin-hyaluronan, mannan, formaldehyde-treated serum albumin (FSA), and aggregated gamma globulin (AGG) was substantial in cultured LSEC. The endocytosis was mediated via the collagen-, hyaluronan-, mannose-, scavenger-, or IgG Fc-receptors, respectively, as judged by the ability of unlabelled ligands to compete with labelled ligands for uptake. Intracellular transport was studied employing a morphological pulse-chase technique. Ninety minutes following administration of red TRITC-FSA via the jugular vein of pigs to tag LSEC lysosomes, cultures of the cells were established, and pulsed with green FITC-labelled collagen, -mannan, and -FSA. By 10 min, the FITC-ligands was located in small vesicles scattered throughout the cytoplasm, with no co-localization with the red lysosomes. By 2 h, the FITC-ligands co-localized with red lysosomes. When LSEC were pulsed with FITC-AGG and TRITC-FSA together, co-localization of the two ligands was observed following a 10 min chase. By 2 h, only partial co-localization was observed; TRITC-FSA was transported to lysosomes, whereas FITC-AGG only slowly left the endosomes. Enzyme assays showed that LSEC and Kupffer cells contained equal specific activities of hexosaminidase, aryl sulphates, acid phosphatase and acid lipase, whereas the specific activities of α-mannosidase, and glucuronidase were higher in LSEC. All enzymes measured showed considerably higher specific activities in LSEC compared to parenchymal cells.
Pig LSEC express the five following categories of high capacity endocytic receptors: scavenger-, mannose-, hyaluronan-, collagen-, and IgG Fc-receptors. In the liver, soluble ligands for these five receptors are endocytosed exclusively by LSEC. Furthermore, LSEC contains high specific activity of lysosomal enzymes needed for degradation of endocytosed material. Our observations suggest that pig LSEC have the same clearance activity as earlier described in rat LSEC.
Paracetamol (acetaminophen, APAP) is a universally used analgesic and antipyretic agent. Considered safe at therapeutic doses, overdoses cause acute liver damage characterized by centrilobular hepatic necrosis. One of the major clinical problems of paracetamol-induced liver disease is the development of hemorrhagic alterations. Although hepatocytes represent the main target of the cytotoxic effect of paracetamol overdose, perturbations within the endothelium involving morphological changes of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) have also been described in paracetamol-induced liver disease. Recently, we have shown that paracetamol-induced liver damage is synergistically enhanced by the TRAIL signaling pathway. As LSECs are constantly exposed to activated immune cells expressing death ligands, including TRAIL, we investigated the effect of TRAIL on paracetamol-induced LSEC death. We here demonstrate for the first time that TRAIL strongly enhances paracetamol-mediated LSEC death with typical features of apoptosis. Inhibition of caspases using specific inhibitors resulted in a strong reduction of cell death. TRAIL appears to enhance paracetamol-induced LSEC death via the activation of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins Bid and Bim, which initiate the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Taken together this study shows that the liver endothelial layer, mainly LSECs, represent a direct target of the cytotoxic effect of paracetamol and that activation of TRAIL receptor synergistically enhances paracetamol-induced LSEC death via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. TRAIL-mediated acceleration of paracetamol-induced cell death may thus contribute to the pathogenesis of paracetamol-induced liver damage.
liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC); paracetamol; TRAIL; Bcl-2 homologs; apoptosis
AIM: To investigate whether irradiation (IR) and partial hepatectomy (PH) may prepare the host liver for non-parenchymal cell (NPC) transplantation.
METHODS: Livers of dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV)-deficient rats were pre-conditioned with external beam IR (25 Gy) delivered to two-thirds of the right liver lobules followed by a one-third PH of the untreated lobule. DPPIV-positive liver cells (NPC preparations enriched for liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) and hepatocytes) were transplanted via the spleen into the recipient livers. The extent and quality of donor cell engraftment and growth was studied over a long-term interval of 16 wk after transplantation.
RESULTS: Host liver staining demonstrated 3 different repopulation types. Well defined clusters of donor-derived hepatocytes with canalicular expression of DPPIV were detectable either adjacent to or in between large areas of donor cells (covering up to 90% of the section plane) co-expressing the endothelial marker platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule. The third type consisted of formations of DPPIV-positive duct-like structures which co-localized with biliary epithelial CD49f.
CONCLUSION: Liver IR and PH as a preconditioning stimulus enables multiple cell liver repopulation by donor hepatocytes, LSECs, and bile duct cells.
Cell transplants; Dipeptidyl peptidase IV protein; Endothelial cells; Liver cell transplantation; Liver irradiation; Liver repopulation
A critical hepatic function is the maintenance of optimal bile acid (BA) compositions to achieve cholesterol homeostasis. BAs are rarely quantified to assess hepatic phenotype in vitro since existing analytical techniques have inadequate resolution. We report a detailed investigation into the biosynthesis and homeostasis of eight primary rat BAs in conventional in vitro hepatocyte cultures and in an engineered liver mimic. The three-dimensional (3D) liver mimic was assembled with layers of primary rat hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. A high-pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry technique was developed with a detection limit of 1 ng/mL for each BA, which is significantly lower than previous approaches. Over a 2-week culture, only 3D liver mimics exhibited the ratio of conjugated cholic acid to chenodeoxycholic acid that has been observed in vivo. This ratio, an important marker of BA homeostasis, was significantly higher in stable collagen sandwich cultures indicating significant deviation from physiological behavior. The biosynthesis of tauro-β-muricholic acid, a key primary rat BA, doubled only in the engineered liver mimics while decreasing in the other systems. These trends demonstrate that the 3D liver mimics provide a unique platform to study hepatic metabolism.
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) play an essential role in systemic waste clearance by effective endocytosis of blood-borne waste macromolecules. We aimed to study LSECs’ scavenger function during aging, and whether age-related morphological changes (eg, defenestration) affect this function, in F344/BN F1 rats. Endocytosis of the scavenger receptor ligand formaldehyde-treated serum albumin was significantly reduced in LSECs from old rats. Ligand degradation, LSEC protein expression of the major scavenger receptors for formaldehyde-treated serum albumin endocytosis, stabilin-1 and stabilin-2, and their staining patterns along liver sinusoids, was similar at young and old age, suggesting that other parts of the endocytic machinery are affected by aging. Formaldehyde-treated serum albumin uptake per cell, and cell porosity evaluated by electron microscopy, was not correlated, indicating that LSEC defenestration is not linked to impaired endocytosis. We report a significantly reduced LSEC endocytic capacity at old age, which may be especially important in situations with increased circulatory waste loads.
Aging; Hepatic sinusoid; Porosity; Stabilin; Scavenger endothelial cells
Tissue homeostasis and remodeling are processes that involve high turnover of biological macromolecules. Many of the waste molecules that are by-products or degradation intermediates of biological macromolecule turnover enter the circulation and are subsequently cleared by liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC). Besides the mannose receptor, stabilin-1 and stabilin-2 are the major scavenger receptors expressed by LSEC. To more clearly elucidate the functions of stabilin-1 and -2, we have generated mice lacking stabilin-1, stabilin-2, or both stabilin-1 and -2 (Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice). Mice lacking either stabilin-1 or stabilin-2 were phenotypically normal; however, Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice exhibited premature mortality and developed severe glomerular fibrosis, while the liver showed only mild perisinusoidal fibrosis without dysfunction. Upon kidney transplantation into WT mice, progression of glomerular fibrosis was halted, indicating the presence of profibrotic factors in the circulation of Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice. While plasma levels of known profibrotic cytokines were unaltered, clearance of the TGF-β family member growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) was markedly impaired in Stab1–/–Stab2–/– mice but not in either Stab1–/– or Stab2–/– mice, indicating that it is a common ligand of both stabilin-1 and stabilin-2. These data lead us to conclude that stabilin-1 and -2 together guarantee proper hepatic clearance of potentially noxious agents in the blood and maintain tissue homeostasis not only in the liver but also distant organs.
The liver removes quickly the great bulk of virus circulating in blood, leaving only a small fraction to infect the host, in a manner characteristic of each virus. The scavenger cells of the liver sinusoids are implicated, but the mechanism is entirely unknown. Here we show, borrowing a mouse model of adenovirus clearance, that nearly all infused adenovirus is cleared by the liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC). Using refined immunofluorescence microscopy techniques for distinguishing macrophages and endothelial cells in fixed liver, and identifying virus by two distinct physicochemical methods, we localized adenovirus 1 minute after infusion mainly to the LSEC (∼90%), finding ∼10% with Kupffer cells (KC) and none with hepatocytes. Electron microscopy confirmed our results. In contrast with much prior work claiming the main scavenger to be the KC, our results locate the clearance mechanism to the LSEC and identify this cell as a key site of antiviral activity.
The liver has long been known as the garbage dump of the body, capable of rapidly removing hazardous pathogens and useless particles from the blood stream, thereby protecting the host. The only cell doing the removal has been thought to be the liver's macrophages. This is likely true for larger particles such as bacteria. But for smaller particles the size of virus or small antibody-antigen complexes, macrophages are probably not the cell responsible for the bulk of removal. We suggest, rather, it is the endothelial cell of the liver's blood circulatory system that takes up and destroys the majority of virus, doing so quickly (minutes) and extensively (>90%), leaving only a small fraction of circulating virus to infect the body in ways peculiar to each virus. To test this possibility, we infused mice intravenously with a harmless common cold virus and tracked its destination by molecular and microscopy methods. Affirming our conjecture, we found that ∼90% of the infused virus homed to the endothelium of the liver and ∼10% went to its macrophages. These data support a unique role, generally underappreciated, for the liver endothelium in viral clearance.
Liver sinusoidal endothelium is strategically positioned to control access of fluids, macromolecules and cells to the liver parenchyma and to serve clearance functions upstream of the hepatocytes. While clearance of macromolecular debris from the peripheral blood is performed by liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) using a delicate endocytic receptor system featuring stabilin-1 and -2, the mannose receptor and CD32b, vascular permeability and cell trafficking are controlled by transcellular pores, i.e. the fenestrae, and by intercellular junctional complexes. In contrast to blood vascular and lymphatic endothelial cells in other organs, the junctional complexes of LSECs have not yet been consistently characterized in molecular terms. In a comprehensive analysis, we here show that LSECs express the typical proteins found in endothelial adherens junctions (AJ), i.e. VE-cadherin as well as α-, β-, p120-catenin and plakoglobin. Tight junction (TJ) transmembrane proteins typical of endothelial cells, i.e. claudin-5 and occludin, were not expressed by rat LSECs while heterogenous immunreactivity for claudin-5 was detected in human LSECs. In contrast, junctional molecules preferentially associating with TJ such as JAM-A, B and C and zonula occludens proteins ZO-1 and ZO-2 were readily detected in LSECs. Remarkably, among the JAMs JAM-C was considerably over-expressed in LSECs as compared to lung microvascular endothelial cells. In conclusion, we show here that LSECs form a special kind of mixed-type intercellular junctions characterized by co-occurrence of endothelial AJ proteins, and of ZO-1 and -2, and JAMs. The distinct molecular architecture of the intercellular junctional complexes of LSECs corroborates previous ultrastructural findings and provides the molecular basis for further analyses of the endothelial barrier function of liver sinusoids under pathologic conditions ranging from hepatic inflammation to formation of liver metastasis.
Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) naturally infects the liver after intravenous injection, making it a candidate for hepatocyte-directed gene transfer. While Ad5 can be efficient, most of the dose is destroyed by liver Kupffer cells before it can reach hepatocytes. In contrast, Ad5 bearing the hexon from Ad6 (Ad5/6) evades Kupffer cells. While Ad5/6 dramatically increases hepatocyte transduction in BALB/c mice, it has surprisingly little effect on C57BL/6 mice. To determine the source of this strain-specific difference, the roles of Kupffer cells, liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs), hepatocytes, scavenger receptors, clotting factors, and immunoglobulins were analyzed. The numbers of Kupffer cells and LSECs, the level of clotting factor X, and hepatocyte infectibility did not differ between different strains of mice. In contrast, high levels of immunoglobulins correlated negatively with Ad5 liver transduction in different mouse strains. Removal of immunoglobulins by use of Rag-deficient mice restored Ad5 transduction to maximal levels. Removal of Kupffer cells by predosing or by testing in colony-stimulating factor knockout mice restored Ad5 transduction in the presence of immunoglobulins. Partial reconstitution of IgM in Rag mice resulted in significant reductions in liver transduction by Ad5 but not by Ad5/6. These data suggest a role for IgM-mediated clearance of Ad5 via Kupffer cells and may explain the mechanism by which Ad5/6 evades these cells. These mechanisms may play a vital role in Ad pharmacology in animals and in humans.
Stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1 is the main regulating factor for trafficking/homing of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to the bone marrow (BM). It is possible that this chemokine may also play a fundamental role in regulating the migration of HSC to several organs during extramedullary hematopoiesis. Because liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) constitute an extramedullary niche for HSC, it is possible that these cells represent one of the main cellular sources of SDF-1 at the liver. Here, we show that LSEC express SDF-1 at the mRNA and protein level. Biological assays showed that conditioned medium from LSEC (LSEC-CM) stimulated the migration of BM progenitor lineage-negative (BM/Lin−) cells. This effect was significantly reduced by AMD3100, indicating that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is involved in the stimulatory migrating effect induced by LSEC-CM. Early localization of HSC in SDF-1–expressing LSEC microenvironment together with increased levels of this chemokine in hepatic homogenates was found in an experimental model of liver extramedullary hematopoiesis. Flow cytometry studies showed that LSEC express the CXCR4 receptor. Functional assays showed that activation of this receptor by SDF-1 stimulated the migration of LSEC and increased the expression of PECAM-1. Our findings suggest that LSEC through the production of SDF-1 may constitute a fundamental niche for regulation of HSC migration to the liver. To our knowledge, this is the first report showing that LSEC not only express and secrete SDF-1, but also its receptor CXCR4.
Chronic alcohol consumption leads to inflammation and cirrhosis of the liver. In this study, we observed that liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) derived from ethanol-fed rats showed several fold increases in the mRNA expression of endothelin-1 (ET-1), hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), and inflammatory cytochemokines compared with control rat LSEC. We also observed the same results in acute ethanol-treated LSEC from control rats and human dermal microvascular endothelial cells. Ethanol-mediated ET-1 expression involved NADPH oxidase and HIF-1α activation. Furthermore, ethanol increased the expression of the ET-1 cognate receptor ET-BR in Kupffer cells and THP-1 monocytic cells, which also involved HIF-1α activation. Promoter analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that hypoxia response element sites in the proximal promoter of ET-1 and ET-BR were required for the binding of HIF-1α to up-regulate their expression. We showed that microRNAs, miR-199 among several microRNAs, attenuated HIF-1α and ET-1 expression, while anti-miR-199 reversed the effects, suggesting that ethanol-induced miR-199 down-regulation may contribute to augmented HIF-1α and ET-1 expression. Our studies, for the first time to our knowledge, show that ethanol-mediated ET-1 and ET-BR expression involve HIF-1α, independent of hypoxia. Additionally, ethanol-induced ET-1 expression in rat LSEC is regulated by miR-199, while in human endothelial cells, ET-1 expression is regulated by miR-199 and miR-155, indicating that these microRNAs may function as novel negative regulators to control ET-1 transcription and, thus, homeostatic levels of ET-1 to maintain microcirculatory tone.
The IL-33/ST2 axis is known to be involved in liver pathologies. Although, the IL-33 levels increased in sera of viral hepatitis patients in human, the cellular sources of IL-33 in viral hepatitis remained obscure. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the expression of IL-33 in murine fulminant hepatitis induced by a Toll like receptor (TLR3) viral mimetic, poly(I:C) or by pathogenic mouse hepatitis virus (L2-MHV3). The administration of poly(I:C) plus D-galactosamine (D-GalN) in mice led to acute liver injury associated with the induction of IL-33 expression in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) and vascular endothelial cells (VEC), while the administration of poly(I:C) alone led to hepatocyte specific IL-33 expression in addition to vascular IL-33 expression. The hepatocyte-specific IL-33 expression was down-regulated in NK-depleted poly(I:C) treated mice suggesting a partial regulation of IL-33 by NK cells. The CD1d KO (NKT deficient) mice showed hepatoprotection against poly(I:C)-induced hepatitis in association with increased number of IL-33 expressing hepatocytes in CD1d KO mice than WT controls. These results suggest that hepatocyte-specific IL-33 expression in poly(I:C) induced liver injury was partially dependent of NK cells and with limited role of NKT cells. In parallel, the L2-MHV3 infection in mice induced fulminant hepatitis associated with up-regulated IL-33 expression as well as pro-inflammatory cytokine microenvironment in liver. The LSEC and VEC expressed inducible expression of IL-33 following L2-MHV3 infection but the hepatocyte-specific IL-33 expression was only evident between 24 to 32h of post infection. In conclusion, the alarmin cytokine IL-33 was over-expressed during fulminant hepatitis in mice with LSEC, VEC and hepatocytes as potential sources of IL-33.
Elimination of galactose-α(1,3)galactose (Gal) expression in pig organs has been previously shown to prevent hyperacute xenograft rejection. However, naturally present antibodies to non-Gal epitopes activate endothelial cells leading to acute humoral xenograft rejection. Still, it is unknown whether xenogeneic pig liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) from α(1,3)galactosyltransferase (GalT)-deficient pigs are damaged by antibody and complement-mediated mechanisms. The present study examined the xeno-antibody response of LSECs from (GalT)-deficient and wild pigs.
Isolated LSEC from wildtype and GalT pigs were expose to human and baboon sera, IgM and IgG binding was analyzed by flow cytometry. Complement activation (C3a and CH50) was quantified in vitro from serum-exposed LSEC cultures using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. Levels of complement activated cytotoxicity (CAC) were also determined by a fluorescent Live Dead Assay and by the quantification of LDH release.
IgM binding to GalT KO LSECs was significantly lower (80% human and 87% baboon) compare to wildtype pig LSEC. IgG binding was low all groups. Moreover, complement activation (C3a and CH50) levels released following exposure to human or baboon sera were importantly reduced (42% human and 52% baboon), CAC in GalT KO LSECs was reduced by 60% in human serum and by 72% in baboon serum when compared to wildtype LSECs and LDH release levels were reduced by 37% and 57% respectively.
LSECs from GalT KO pigs exhibit a significant protection to humoral-induced cell damage compare to LSECs from wild pigs when exposed to human serum. Though insufficient to inhibit xenogeneic reactivity completely, transgenic GalT KO expression on pig livers might contribute to a successful application of clinical xenotransplantation in combination with other protective strategies.
Xenotransplantation; Liver endothelial cells; GalTα(1,3)GalT-Knockout pigs
Numerous studies in rats and a few other mammalian species, including man, have shown that the sinusoidal cells constitute an important part of liver function. In the pig, however, which is frequently used in studies on liver transplantation and liver failure models, our knowledge about the function of hepatic sinusoidal cells is scarce. We have explored the scavenger function of pig liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC), a cell type that in other mammals performs vital elimination of an array of waste macromolecules from the circulation.
125I-macromolecules known to be cleared in the rat via the scavenger and mannose receptors were rapidly removed from the pig circulation, 50% of the injected dose being removed within the first 2–5 min following injection. Fluorescently labeled microbeads (2 μm in diameter) used to probe phagocytosis accumulated in Kupffer cells only, whereas fluorescently labeled soluble macromolecular ligands for the mannose and scavenger receptors were sequestered only by LSEC. Desmin-positive stellate cells accumulated no probes. Isolation of liver cells using collagenase perfusion through the portal vein, followed by various centrifugation protocols to separate the different liver cell populations yielded 280 × 107 (range 50–890 × 107) sinusoidal cells per liver (weight of liver 237.1 g (sd 43.6)). Use of specific anti-Kupffer cell- and anti-desmin antibodies, combined with endocytosis of fluorescently labeled macromolecular soluble ligands indicated that the LSEC fraction contained 62 × 107 (sd 12 × 107) purified LSEC. Cultured LSEC avidly endocytosed ligands for the mannose and scavenger receptors.
We show here for the first time that pig LSEC, similar to what has been found earlier in rat LSEC, represent an effective scavenger system for removal of macromolecular waste products from the circulation.